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What Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) Can Achieve

What SDR Can Achieve

SDR unmasks the leg weakness inherent to cerebral palsy. Although reduction in spasticity is immediate after the procedure, it takes time for the strength in the lower extremities to return.

Through the physiotherapy programme, the child will learn to use his or her body in a new way. Many children develop hypersensitivity in the soles of their feet after surgery; this is transient and will improve on wearing thick socks. There may also be a transient bladder disturbance; this may cause a change in toilet habits and could be frustrating for both the child and the parents. It will become apparent with time that lower limb movement becomes easier and the level of control, dexterity, range and speed increases, although it may take up to two years for the full benefit of the procedure to become apparent.

There is now enough evidence to demonstrate that SDR is associated with long-term benefits. These are not only related to reduction in spasticity, but also relate to improved movement and gait and improved quality of life for both the children and their families.

Following a period of commissioning through evaluation where 120 children underwent SDR and were followed up for 2 years, NHS England decided to routinely commission SDR for certain children with Cerebral Palsy. Bristol Royal Hospital for Children are delighted to be one of the centres providing this service. For information please see the NHS England website

(This information can also be found within the paediatric physiotherapy SDR webpages.)